Week Six -- Tennessee Edition (via media.govolsxtra.com)
Welcome to the Week Six edition of "Is It Saturday Yet?", my weekly two-part article featuring my predictions and picks for the upcoming week around the conference and a recap of the previous week's results. I hope it gets you through the week, and I hope you have almost as much fun reading this as I do writing it. As always, feel free to comment, weigh in, and leave feedback!
**WEEK FIVE - RESULTS & RECAP**
DiemonDawg's Week Five Record: 7-0 (note: I won't pick Georgia games in this feature out of the principle that the sports gods will indubitably smite me if I do.) My point predictions, however? Waaayyyy off.
1) #12 South Carolina at UCF.
This turned out to be a fight. If you are a Dawg fan who isn't a member of our backwoods lunatic fringe, you know you can't call out the Gamecocks on this nail biter. (Similarly, now Gamecock fans can't dump on us for losing to them.) Connor Shaw was injured early, and UCF put forth a hell of an effort against him and Dylan Thompson. However, the talent and toughness of this Carolina team prevailed in the second half, and the Gamecocks managed to take the "W" in a close on in Orlando.
Not sure if happiness or relief. (via s3.amazonaws.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "I'll take the Garnet and Black by two TDs."
Final Score: 28-25, South Carolina. (Gotta give UCF props though for their fight in this game.)
2) South Alabama at Tennessee.
At first Tennessee looked like they were going to thoroughly dominate this one. Then it turned into a game nearly as close as the Carolina-UCF game. You know you have a long way to go when your once-glorious team struggles to put away a team that started playing football in 2009. (Fun fact: this is "USA"'s first season as a member of the FBS.)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Vols... by at least 30."
Final Score: 31-24, Tennessee. (Way too close for comfort.)
3) #21 Ole Miss at #1 Alabama.
That was not pretty at all, but it's fun to analyze this one. We are seeing flashes that Alabama can once again be the complete team we've been waiting to see. The Crimson Tide defense sent the Rebels packing with a big ol' goose egg. The offense seemingly failed to show up in T-Town - the game plan appeared to be there, but the execution was practically non-existent.
On the flip side, Alabama's offense struggled mightily (by Alabama standards, anyway) against the young Rebel defense. AJ McCarron was held to 180 yards, 0 TDs, and one interception. Bama did not score their first touchdown in this game until the second half. 25 points is the lowest point total that Alabama has been held to in Tuscaloosa since their loss to
Texas A&M Johnny Football in 2012 (24 points), and before that, LSU in 2011. Though Alabama's D looked strong in this one, I still think we have yet to see the "complete" Bama team of '13.
Also, in the hypothetical situation that we meet the Tide in Atlanta, I hope we put a media/social media gag on the guys. Rebel QB Bo Wallace made these comments the week before:
"We can put points on them. I think we can put points on anybody. We just got to show up and play and it’s the same thing every week: Let’s stay on schedule and control the tempo and don’t have any turnovers. We have better receivers than A&M. They want to talk about Mike Evans being so good; well, we have Donte (Moncrief) and I think Laquon (Treadwell) is going to be that way. I think we have better players on the outside than A&M does."
A few Bama players mentioned after the win that this was used as bulletin board material and that it was a motivating factor in how they played. If they took offense to that, can you imagine a team with a player that calls them out in much more direct language? We've shot ourselves in the foot with this in the past (see: Bacarri Rambo, 2012.)
(If we make it to Atlanta, I think a team "gag order" from the end of the Georgia Tech game until after the SECCG is over and done with is a topic worthy of further discussion. But let's just move on and take care of business before we worry about that.)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Gonna pick Bama, by 13 tops."
Final Score: 25-0, Alabama.
4) #10 Texas A&M at Arkansas.
The Hogs actually made a game against Johnny Football. After losing to Rutgers last week, the Razorbacks managed to go toe-to-toe with Sumlin's squad until late in the fourth quarter, when the Hogs threw a pick to effectively guarantee the "L". Of course, the (Moneyb)Aggie QB had...you guessed it...plenty of lucky/stupid/(take your pick of adjective) throws like the touchdown pass pictured below to aid their cause. For where the Hogs are right now, this was a solid effort.
That is just stupid. How the hell are they so damn lucky on stunts like this!? (via cdn1.sbnation.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Aggie Field Day in Fayetteville...by at least three scores."
Final Score: 45-33, A&M.
5) #20 Florida at Kentucky.
Florida got its 27th straight win over the Wildcats. That is just an incredibly depressing number.
On a more entertaining note though, the Cats did fake out the Gators to get their one and only touchdown of the game. (Paging Evil Richt - can we see this hilarity in Jacksonville?)
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Florida by at least 2 TDs."
Final Score: 24-7, Florida.
6) UAB at Vanderbilt.
Vanderbilt finally broke 40-points for the first time this season. Though UAB is no powerhouse, it's safe to say this was a win the Commodores needed in order to restore some confidence. Indeed, it was a nice, cushy home win for the Fiery Buttholes of Nashville. They welcome Mizzou on Saturday, seeking their first conference win of the season.
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Vanderbilt by at least 20. They haven't broken 40 points in a game this year, but this could be the one where they do just that."
Final Score: 52-24, Vandy.
7) Arkansas State at Missouri.
There was never any doubt in this one. It'll be interesting to see what these Tigers are made of when they head to Nashville this weekend.
DiemonDawg's Pick: "Missouri by 15-20 before heading to Nashville to open conference play."
Final Score: 41-19, Missouri.
8) #6 LSU at #9 Georgia
Russ may not have gotten a chance to show up a Tiger like his great-great-grandfather did, but Aaron Murray turned in a masterful performance that will be remembered by the Georgia faithful for years to come. We are now 13-16-1 all time against the Bayou Bengals, and we are now firmly in control of our own destiny for the rest of the season.
Take a moment to enjoy these images one more time before we look to Knoxville for the weekend. (Add more in the comments if there are any particular ones you liked!)
Narrative? Just about exorcised. (via img.youtube.com)
High-flying JSW. (via cdn.bleacherreport.net)
Unsung heroes? AM's jersey stayed clean when it mattered most. (via blacksportsonline.com)
This might just be my favorite of 'em all. (via media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com)
Congratulations, Dawgs. It was a tough game, and you earned it! Now, let's finish what we started.
Final Score: 44-41, DAWGS on top!
**WEEK SIX - SEC ACTION**
Though not as action-packed as last week, Week Six looks to be an interesting one. All are conference games except for Alabama, who welcomes in our Atlanta neighbors (no, not those neighbors, but) the Panthers. Let's dig in to this week's slate.
1) Georgia State at #1 Alabama, 12:21PM, ESPN3.
In their first season as
Football Bigboy Subdivision FBS members, the Georgia State Panthers limp into Tuscaloosa with a 0-4 record, having dropped games to Samford (31-21), Chattanooga (42-14), West Virginia (41-7), and Jacksonville State (32-26 in OT).
The Crimson Tide soundly defeated Ole Miss to notch their second conference win. In not-so-good news for the Red Elephants, their star safety was suspended indefinitely for
an unspecified violation of team rules impermissible benefits this week. An assistant S&C coach was placed on administrative leave for the infraction. (Not to worry though. Knowing how "the Process" works, he should be back for Alabama's tilt with LSU!)
Though Alabama should win handily, this is a game where the offense needs to show total domination. The defense looked top-notch against Ole Miss, but the offense has only scored 56 points in their last two games (in T-Town, no less). By Bama standards, this is subpar. In order to quell the questions surrounding the completeness of the 2013 edition of the Tide, they will need to steamroll the hapless Atlantans to keep their #1 spot out of Oregon's fowl hands. (See what I did there?)
Admittedly, my favorite Alabama highlights look like this. (via www.thebuckeyebattlecry.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: Pay for Play, pure and simple. Alabama will prevail by at least 35-40.
2) Arkansas at #18 Florida, 7:00PM, ESPN2.
The Bacon Bits travel to the Swamp to take on the Gators. This is resembling 2012 all over again for the Gators in the fact that we know their offense is their fatal flaw, but they'll still win most of their games anyway.
This could get sloppy, but it could also get interesting. The Hawgs played Texas A&M close last weekend, and it gave their fans hope for the future. Now, if only Bielema could keep his balance during the Hog Walk.
Obligatory. (via images.ftw.usatoday.com)
DiemonDawg's Pick: If it comes down to the wire, the Gator D once again saves their tails. Florida by 10.
3) #24 Ole Miss at Auburn, 7:00PM, ESPNU/WatchESPN.
Auburn hosts the 24th-ranked Rebels for Western division clash at Jordan-Hare. Ole Miss, despite being shut out last week, looked pretty solid on defense, which could ultimately be the difference in this game. I think it will get close, but I'll take the Rebels to bounce back. Auburn will play tough, but they just aren't where they want to be yet.
DiemonDawg's Pick: Rebels take the road win by a field goal.
4) #10 LSU at Mississippi State, 7:00PM, ESPN/WatchESPN.
The Tigers march to Starkville to take on a different breed of bulldog. Sorry, State. This is simply not gonna end well for you. It will be interesting to see how/if Mettenberger responds to last week's loss over the course of the season. I don't see the Bizarro Bulldogs being in this one for very long, barring a Tiger team coming in with a hangover from the loss coupled with a psyched up Bulldog team. But I have faith in the Tigers to win. Last week told me a lot about the strength of LSU's team, so I'd feel remiss if I didn't pick them.
DiemonDawg's Pick: Smooth sailing for LSU - two TDs over the Magnolia State Mutts.
5) Missouri at Vanderbilt, 7:00PM, ESPN3.
While perhaps not a nationally relevant game, this is a huge contest between two teams looking to establish their identities for the 2013 season. Vanderbilt sits at 3-2 (both losses coming from SEC tilts) and Missouri is the only undefeated team left in the Eastern Division at 4-0. Both are seeking their first conference win. Pending Florida's performance over the rest of the season, this should be the game that gives us a better idea of what the mid-tier of the East looks like.
DiemonDawg's Pick: This is the toughest pick of the week. I'll go with James Franklin. But seeing as, until last week, Vandy has struggled putting points up, I think I'll go with Mizzou by 10.
6) Kentucky at #13 South Carolina, 7:30PM, ESPN3.
There are reports that Connor Shaw could be ready to play in this one. (I have no love for South Carolina, but I can't help but notice that, man, some of these guys they've had the past few years are tough as nails.) I'm not so sure Kentucky will be pulling that fake FG against Spurrier's squad this time.
DiemonDawg's Pick: Carolina by 24.
7) Georgia at Tennessee, 3:30PM, CBS.
Time for a pep talk. Dawgs, you've just notched one of your biggest wins in recent memory. You have every reason to be excited, to celebrate, to pat yourselves on the back. But beware of complacency. Beware of any notions of feeling self-assured. Such an attitude is almost a surefire way to lose sight of the big picture. Many teams in the past have stumbled because they lost focus of the very thing they dreamed of: a title. And the losses come to teams that these guys view as "inferior".
We came within mere feet last year of tasting greatness, of being conference champions for the first time since '05, and perhaps of becoming an even bigger champion than that.
You are now in control of your destiny. Do not let this opportunity pass you by -- especially you upperclassmen who have seen the ups and the heartbreaking downs during your ride at Georgia. With the season that Tennessee is having, they would love nothing more than to trip you up; it would be the highlight of their year. Same goes for every other team left on our schedule; don't think that they (especially Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech) haven't drawn a target on your backs.
So let's go to Knoxville, stay hungry, finish the drill, and commit to the "G".
Plus, wouldn't the silencing of "Rocky Top" be motivation to give 'em hell? (via media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com)
"You're goin' down, Houn' dog." (via media.scout.com)